In the third of a growing series of vividly-written crime stories set among the tribulations of contemporary Greece,
- Leo Kanaris, Dangerous days (2019),
private investigator George Zafiris continues to tread a murky path through corruption and nepotism amidst a dysfunctional society in crisis. Like Raymond Chandler’s Hollywood (but, pace Alan Partridge, not so like Norwich), Greece makes a fine backdrop to explore moral quandaries.
One vignette in Dangerous days reminds me of quaint Chinese transliterations like Andeli Poliwen (André Previn), Kelaimeng Feilang (“Clermont-Ferrand”, all the more reminiscent of a pseudo-Sanskrit Daoist mantra when preceded by Aofonie, “Auvergne”), or tuzibulashi (toothbrush, or “rabbits don’t shit”). As George walks through central Athens pondering the intricacies of the cases confronting him, he takes in the Greek versions of film-stars’ names appearing on cinema billboards:
Tzonny Ntep, Tzoud Lo, Kira Naïtely, Kim Mpazintzer.
Of course, English orthography is on a sticky wicket here: there’s no more reason to be perplexed by “Naïtely” than by “Knightley”, or a host of other English words like “Cholmondeley”, “hiccough” or indeed “one”. Cf. Monty Python:
“Ah, no. My name is spelt ‘Luxury Yacht’ but it’s pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove.”